About Disappearing Lines

The project Disappearing Lines seeks to shine a light on endangered boats and their communities by inspiring people through a one-day workshop in traditional wooden boat building and a talk on endangered craft. The aim of the project is to help preserve the lineage of the endangered vessels, the craft of traditional wooden boat building and give voice to the living history of our coastal communities.

Disappearing Lines will be delivered by professional wooden boatbuilder Gail McGarva in partnership with maritime museums and organisations across England. This project is supported by Arts Council England.

Project Background

Gail McGarva is a traditional wooden boat builder, specialising in the building of replicas of boats in danger of extinction, which has been recognised in a British Empire Medal. In 2017 she was awarded an Arts Council Individual Grant for the Arts in support of the Story Boat Project. The Story Boat is a miniature maritime museum that Gail created from the upturned boat Vera from 1923, giving her a new lease of life on land as the keeper of memories and encapsulates Gail’s passion for the preservation of traditional craft. The on-going work of the Story Boat Project is an integration of Gail’s work as a boat builder, workshop facilitator and teller of stories.

This project Disappearing Lines is inspired by the story of Vera and the sense of urgency that many of our working boats like her are in danger of extinction. Equally the craft of traditional wooden boat building and building by eye are endangered skills.

The Disappearing Lines Workshop

The Disappearing Lines workshop is a combination of practical hands-on activities interwoven with capturing the stories of craft in danger of extinction. The one-day workshop will give participants the opportunity to try their hand at two key processes in traditional wooden boat building – steam bending and copper-rivet fastening. Through Gail’s demonstration and tutoring, they will create their own miniature oak ribcage of a boat, a ghost ship symbolising the disappearing lines of the craft. Participants will not need to be skilled in woodwork and it will be accessible to all ages. Gail will tailor the delivery of the workshop to suit the participants.

The workshop will also bring to life examples of working boats in danger of extinction. If pertinent to the area or group, participants will be invited to bring their own memory objects linked to a local boat that is endangered or lost and share the narrative attached to it.

Additionally an evening talk is offered by Gail as an open event for the local community on the disappearing lines of craft with an illustrated slideshow accompanied with an exhibition of the ghost ships made during the workshops and a display of memory objects.

This project will kick off on 21st October. The workshop will be hosted at the below organisations.

  • Windermere Jetty Museum - 21st October.
  • The Dock Museum-Barrow-in-Furness - 23rd & 24th October.
  • Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre - 28th October.
  • Topsham Museum - 1st November.
  • Lynher River Barge CIC - 4th November.
  • Underfall Yard, Bristol - 9th & 11th November.
  • Watchet Boat Museum - 15th November.
  • Time and Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth - 18th November.
  • Chatham Historic Dockyard - 22nd November.
  • Royal Museums Greenwich - 26th November.
  • National Maritime Museum Cornwall - 2nd December.



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